YE ARE THE SALT OF THE EARTH
The various names God gives His children in the Bible. (Some are: sheep, brethren, little ones, etc.) When Jesus gives us the name of “salt”, He is reminding us that we have the opportunity and the responsibility to be an influence in the world. It is interesting that these verses should follow the Beatitudes. In the Beatitudes, Jesus gives some qualities that ought to be present in every citizen in the Kingdom. When we are possessed of these characteristics, we will be a positive influence and we will make a difference in the world around us.
When we are living out the standards of the Lord Jesus in our lives, we will be like salt and as light. Now, light is an external quality that enables one to see. Just as a glistening, limestone city sitting high on a hillside cannot be hidden for the light coming from its walls, so the Christian who shines with the brilliance of the Lord Jesus cannot be hidden from the view of the world. In other words, your testimony will get out on you. Those around you will see it and be touched by it.
Today, I would like to zero in on the idea of our being called “salt.” In this one verse, Jesus makes three statements that need to be considered and understood by every child of God this today. Let’s take the time to look together at them as we consider the thought Ye Are The Salt Of The Earth.
A DESCRIPTION TO ANALYZE
People, in general, do not realize the importance of salt in maintaining the life and health of their bodies. An exact percentage of it is always present in our bloodstream, and any great deviation from this amount can result in sickness and even death. Salt is a sustainer of other life, too. For this reason, seawater will support many more organisms than freshwater. As a preservative, it retards spoilage. Also, it is a splendid condiment, adding zest and savor to our food.
Salt in the Scriptures is said to be:
1. A symbol of a binding covenant (Lev. 2:13)
2. A healing and cleansing aid (2 Ki. 2:20–21)
3. A stimulant to the appetite (Job 6:6)
4. A preventive of decay (Luke 14:34–35)
5. A promoter of peace (Mark 9:50)
6. A stimulant to our testimony (Mt. 5:13)
7. Evidence of grace (Col. 4:6)
We are called salt because of:
Our Preserving Ability — (Salt wards off rot and decay! It is rubbed into meat in an effort to preserve it.) (Ill. Sodom and Gomorrah — Gen. 19. They could have been saved by the preserving influence of just 10 righteous men.) So it is in America today! I am convinced that the presence and the prayers of “salty” Christians have done more to preserve this nation than anything else we could name. It is the righteousness of God’s children that made America great and it is what keeps this country from being judged today, Pro. 14:34.
Our Penetrating Ability — (Salt will penetrate and infiltrate whatever it touches. It is an aggressive substance.) (The early church — Acts 8:1, 4; Acts 17:6.) I believe that we have been called by the Lord to be an active force in the world around us. The church should be a militant army charging the very gates of Hell, Matt. 16:18. Our Purifying Ability —(Salt has a remarkable cleansing ability.) (2 Kings 2:19–22—Elisha cleansed the waters at Jericho with salt.
In ancient times, newborn babies were washed in salt to cleanse their bodies and to give firmness to their skin, Eze. 16:4.) (Salt in a wound can cleanse the area.) Often, Christians have a purifying effect on the world around them. They ought to behave differently when the child of God walks up. Don’t be offended if they stop talking when you come around. Just thank God that you are acting as a purifying force in the world around you.) (Every meat offering was to be made with salt — Lev. 2:13. So it is with our lives. We are to offer our lives as an offering to the Lord, Rom. 12:1–2. When we do, it proves that we are worth our salt!)
Our Pleasing Ability — (Bringing out the best. Salt blends and adds flavor to food. In fact, there are some foods that are better off not eating, if there is no salt!) So too, the Christian should flavor the world around him. As salt, we are to so live our lives that we bring out the best in those around us. That is what Jesus did time and again, and that what you and I are supposed to be doing for His glory! (Phil. 1:27)
Our Poisoning Ability — (Salt kills some things! Ever poured salt on a slug? Slugs and salt do not mix! Salt poured on a lawn will kill the grass. Too much salt is not good for your blood pressure.) (Abimelech, in Judges 9:45, took a city and the sowed the city with salt to prevent the ground from being used to grow crops. He killed the fields with salt.) By the same token, when true Christianity is sowed into the lives, homes, and communities of the world, some things will be put to death. We can make an impact on our world by the very fact that we are pure poison to sin. When Jesus comes into a life, drinking, cussing, fighting, hating, killing, drugging, loose living, etcetera, are all put to death in the name of Jesus — 2 Cor. 5:17.)
Our Promoting Ability — (Salt creates a thirst for water in those who are exposed to it!) As salt, the Christian has the wonderful opportunity to promote a thirst for Jesus in the world. Remember what the Lord told us? He said that out of our bellies would flow rivers of living water — John 7:37 – 38. When we live as Christians should live. When we take the call of Jesus seriously and live right, look right, act right, talk right, worship right, dress right, etc. Then we have the ability to create a thirst for Jesus in the hearts of those around us.
When that happens, we can point men to Jesus and share with them the water of life. Sadly, most Christians do not promote thirst, but ridicule instead. Too often, we live substandard immoral lives and the world sees it and says, “Why should I receive Jesus? I live just as good as that crowd down at the church!” The fact is, they are often right! Let’s so live that we ever prove them wrong. Our lives must be above reproach if we are to create a thirst for God in the world around us!
We must never give anyone causes to say, “If that is a Christian, then I never want to be one.” Instead, our lives ought to motivate people to say, “That is what I want my life to be.” Our Proven Ability — (Salt changes nearly everything it touches. Food, ice, etc.) (We are called to be thermostats and not thermometers in the world around us. We are to be the instruments that God can use to implement change in a wicked world. When genuine, New Testament Christianity touches this sinful, wicked world, there will be a change of some variety. We just need to be sure that we are changing the world and not the other way around! The modern mentality, “We have to be like the world to win the world.” We’ll win more if we are like Jesus!
A DANGER TO AVOID
Salt was very valuable in the ancient world. So valuable, in fact, that the Roman Legions were often paid their wages in salt. This payment was called the “salarium.” (This is where the expression, “Not worth his salt.” comes from!) It was possible for salt on that day to lose its flavor. The salt used then was far different from that which we see today. Our salt is a chemical compound called chloride of sodium or sodium chloride. The salt used in the ancient world was either mined from the salt cliffs along the Dead Sea, which were seven miles long and several hundred feet high, or it was evaporated from the waters of the Dead Sea. Either way, it was always mixed with mineral or vegetable matter. When this substance was exposed to the elements or when it touched the earth, the salt lost its salty taste.
Even the surface salt that was dug from the cliffs was discarded because exposure to the light rendered it tasteless. This tasteless salt also lost all the qualities that made it so valuable and sought after, to begin with. It is possible for Christians to lose their saltiness as well. This happens to us when we, just like salt in ancient times, come into too close contact with the world. When get to be more like the world than we are like the Lord, then we have lost that thing that sets us apart and makes us valuable to the Lord’s Kingdom work.) (Too often, we allow our wells to get filled with junk! The Event in Gen. 26:15– 18. When we allow our wells to be filled with the world’s junk than we are practically useless to the Lord and His Kingdom work!)
A DESTINY TO ABHOR
In ancient times, when salt lost its savor, it was then taken out and cast into the footpaths. It was used much as gravel is in our day. Its only purpose then was to kill out the weeds that might grow in the road, and for me to walk on to keep their sandals out of the mud. Literally, it was to be trodden under the foot of men. Every Christian in this room needs to understand that when we lose our saltiness and when we cease to function as salt in the world, then we too have become good for nothing, and while we cannot lose our salvation, we can most certainly lose our usefulness to the Lord and to His work. When this happens, we have become something to be trodden upon and treated with contempt!
When we are living for the Lord, men may not like us, but there is often certain respect for the stand we take and for the testimony that we possess. When we allow our testimony to become tainted by sin and the world, then men will walk upon our testimony and we become absolutely useless to the Lord as a vessel of witness. I do not know about you, but I do not want to wind up being cast out as a vessel by the Lord. I would like for my life to be useful to Him. I would like for Him to be able to use my life to bring others to Himself. I really would like to be a blessing and a light for the Lord. I believe that every child of God in this auditorium wants to be a salty Christian for the glory of God. (Paul knew that the potential always existed for him to be a castaway — 1 Cor. 9:27. I see that potential in my life as well, and I do not want that. How about you?)
As you consider your life this evening, can you honestly say that your life is like salt in the world? There is a tremendous need for every child of God to be all that God wants them to be in these days. We have seen enough falsehood, hypocrisy and weak living to do us, and the world, a lifetime. We need to be about the business of purifying, preserving, penetrating, pleasing and promoting so that the Lord can use our lives and our testimonies for His glory. God help us to be salty Christians.